Friday, August 28, 2015

Daily Headlines: August 28, 2015

* Guatemala: Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Guatemala City on Thursday and businesses closed shop in order to call for the resignation of scandal-hit President Otto Perez Molina.

* Puerto Rico: Tropical Storm Erika hit Puerto Rico this morning as the commonwealth faces one of its worst droughts in more than a century.

* Ecuador: President Rafael Correa claimed that Ecuador’s economy, which is pegged to the U.S. dollar, has caused oil production to outpace earnings from sales of crude.

* Brazil: Brazil’s largest telecommunications firms are reportedly campaigning to place more regulations against popular messaging tool WhatsApp.

YouTube Source – EFE

Online Sources – Fox News Latino, Reuters, USA TODAY, NBC News, ZDNet

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Today’s Video: The Nose Doesn’t Know

Last Tuesday we looked at a short yet clever 1995 Argentine advert that received two gold Clios. Today we continue to highlight award-winning commercials made by Latin American ad agencies with an anti-drug PSA from Colombia. This brief but deft piece below the page break earned Colombia a Golden Lion at the Cannes Lions Festival over a decade ago:

Daily Headlines: August 27, 2015

* Latin America: Economic experts and environmental analysts warned that Latin American and Caribbean states must lower water consumption for agricultural needs in order to ensure water security throughout the region.

* U.S.: A Texas court issued a reprieve against the execution of a convicted Nicaraguan national, while the mother of an Argentine on death row in Texas for 19 years is hoping that Pope Francis will intervene during his U.S. visit next month.

* Ecuador: For the second straight year an InterNations survey named Ecuador as the best country for expats including the highest scores in areas like “feeling welcome,” “personal finance” and “cost of living”.

* Colombia: A coalition of Colombian women’s rights groups called for the government to take a more active role in investigating sexual violence by “state security forces, paramilitaries and other private actors.”

YouTube Source – CCTV Americas Now

Online Sources – Economic Times, Fox News Latino, The Guardian, U.S. News & World Report, NBC News

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Daily Headlines: August 26, 2015

* Guatemala: The Guatemalan Supreme Court gave the green light for impeachment proceedings against President Otto Perez Molina, while another tribunal ordered former dictator Efrain Rios Montt to face a retrial on genocide charges.

* Argentina: Police clashed with protesters in the Argentine province of Tucuman over allegations of ballot burning following last Sunday’s gubernatorial election.

* El Salvador: El Salvador’s Attorney General claimed to have uncovered a plot by street gangs to detonate explosives against his office and other government agencies.

* Puerto Rico: The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, which is in more than $8 billion in debt, cut its ties to Brazilian state-run oil firm Petrobras as part of a move to save costs.

YouTube Source – Al Jazeera English (Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty of ordering the massacre of over 1700 indigenous Guatemalans in 1982 but the conviction was overturned in 2013).

Online Sources – CNN, Business Insider, Voice of America, ABC News, Yahoo News

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Today’s Video: Buzzed

In early July we examined a commercial for a German company conceived by Brazilians, filmed in Uruguay, and recipient of one of the top prizes at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival. This week we will look at other award-winning commercials made by Latin American ad agencies.

Made by the Argentine creative team of Carlos Bayala and Gabriela Scardaccione, the 1995 spot below the page break received two gold Clios for a deceptively simple ad hiding a very clever twist ending:

YouTube Source – Clip40AnnReel

Online Sources (English) – Campaign Magazine, The Latin Americanist

Daily Headlines: August 25, 2015

* Latin America: China’s recent economic woes could have major financial repercussions to Latin American states that rely heavily on trade with the Asian country and are heavily dependent on oil exports. 

* Caribbean: Tugboat operators are concerned over potential safety hazards regarding the expansion of the Panama Canal, while the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua criticized potential land expropriation for the construction of a new interoceanic waterway.

* Brazil: The Brazilian government will eliminate 10 of its 39 ministries as part of “President Dilma Rousseff's commitment to an unpopular austerity plan.”

* Puerto Rico: The number of murders in Puerto Rico dropped by 40% since a record high 1164 homicides in 2011 according to the FBI.

YouTube Source – Associated Press

Online Sources – PRI, Tico Times, International Business Times, Reuters, Latin American Herald Tribune

Monday, August 24, 2015

Daily Headlines: August 24, 2015

* Guatemala: During a televised speech on Sunday night, a defiant President Otto Pérez Molina refused to step down from his post despite being implicated by investigators in a growing customs fraud scandal.

* Peru: President Ollanta Humala is expected to sign into law a proposal allowing the Peruvian military to shoot down suspected aircraft attempting to smuggle drugs.

* El Salvador: “An internal dispute involving the feared Barrio 18 gang” is believed to have been the cause of a prison riot that left at least fourteen people dead.

* U.S.: A recent survey found that the environment is a topic that has gained importance among potential Latino voters.

YouTube Source – teleSUR English (“Thousands of demonstrators demanded the ouster of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina on Saturday following the arrest of Vice President Roxana Baldetti in a graft scandal that has rocked the country.”)

Online Sources – Bloomberg, The Indpendent, RTE, NPR

Friday, August 21, 2015

Remembering Daniel Rabinovich

Daniel Rabinovich, a member of Argentine comedy-musical group Les Luthiers, died on Friday after suffering from cardiac problems since approximately 2012. He was 71-years-old.

Nicknamed “Neneco” by his family and close friends, Rabinovich was one of the founders of Les Luthiers and remained with the group since its birth in 1967. For nearly four decades, Les Luthiers created 170 stage shows where they showcased their unique blend of musical knowledge and humor. Rabinovich was said to be “one of the group's most popular members, playing a variety of instruments outside of singing, including guitar, violin, bass-pipe, sousaphone, recorder and percussion”.

At times reminiscent of Tom Lehrer and on other occasions more like Victor Borge, Les Luthiers have entertained audiences worldwide. They will likely continue though the gang won’t be the same without the contributions of the late Rabinovich. He will be missed.
YouTube Sources – YotteCat and Cibertracker Imperium

Online Source (English) - Billboard

Daily Headlines: August 21, 2015 (Updated)

* El Salvador: A U.S. federal court delayed Spain’s extradition request for Col. Inocente Orlando Montano, a retired army officer allegedly involved in the 1989 massacre of five Jesuit priests in El Salvador.

* Guatemala: Former Vice President Roxana Baldetti was arrested today on charges relating to one of the corruption scandals affecting President Otto Pérez Molina’s administration.

Update: Guatemalan prosecutors and investigators on a U.N.-backed panel recommended impeachment proceedings to begin against Pérez Molina over his alleged role in the "La Linea" customs fraud scandal.

* Brazil: Brazilian prosecutors filed charges against ex-President Fernando Collor de Mello and the current Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies related to the Petrobras bribery affair.

* Puerto Rico: The head of Puerto Rico’s Chamber of Commerce claimed that a coalition of twenty private sector firms urged the U.S. Congress to allow the commonwealth to declare bankruptcy.

YouTube Source – AP Archive (“Salvadorans are commemorating the sixth anniversary (in 1995) of a massacre of Jesuit priests by members of the military”.)

Online Sources including Update – Inside Costa Rica, BBC News, The Huffington Post, The Latin Americanist, NBC News, INternational Business Times

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Daily Headlines: August 20, 2015

* Argentina: Attorneys representing the family of Alberto Nisman, a top Argentine prosecutor killed under mysterious circumstances last January, claimed that “someone” erased data from his cell phone shortly before he died.

* Venezuela: PDVSA chief Eulogio Del Pino was named as Venezuela’s new oil and mining minister amid a domestic economic crisis caused in part by the low prices of crude.

* Colombia: Colombia recently became the sixteenth Latin American country to define femicides as a specific crime but will the new law help decrease levels of violence against women?

* Brazil: Brazil’s unemployment rate rose for the seventh straight month in July and jumped from 6.9 percent in June to 7.5%.

YouTube Source – BBC News

Online Sources – Reuters, Financial Times, The Latin Americanist, Buenos Aires Herald

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Daily Headlines: August 19, 2015 (Updated)

* El Salvador: At least 28 people died during a violent 24-hour span in El Salvador according to data from the Attorney General’s office.

* Colombia: Representatives of Colombia’s FARC rebels once again expressed their willingness to meet with Pope Francis during his trip to Cuba in September.

Update: Vatican spokesman Ciro Benedettini on Wednesday said that the pope doesn't have any plans to meet with FARC envoys next month.

* Latin America: The capitals of Argentina and Chile – Buenos Aires and Santiago – were named by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the best Latin American cities to live in.

* Brazil: Former Petrobras executive Nestor Cervero was sentenced to twelve years in prison in relation to one of the corruption scandals that has hurt President Dilma Rousseff’s administration.

YouTube Source – Al Jazeera English

Online Sources including Update – Catholic News Service, CNN, Latin American Herald Tribune, The Guardian, Colombia Reports

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Guatemalan Women Go on Anti-Government Hunger Strike

The hunger strike is sometimes used as a form of protest in Latin America oftentimes to denounce government policies and actions. This year alone, former Chilean dissidents imprisoned during the Pinochet military regime went on a forty-one day hunger strike while Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez ended a 30-day fast last June. Guatemala has been no exception to this trend as two women commenced their own opposition hunger strike on August 14th.

Human rights activists Bárbara Hernández and Gabriela Flores have gone at least four days fasting to call for the resignation of scandal-plagued President Otto Pérez Molina as well as the postponement of the general election scheduled for September 6th.

“We act in solidarity with the grandfathers who have had to go with their kin to the morgue and identify their grandchildren who died in the midst of this violence caused by systemic corruption,” declared Hernández to the press last Friday as they began their protest from a tent in front of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Guatemala City.

We overflowed with anger...and we are seeking the immediate resignation of the president who symbolizes impunity,” admitted Hernández who is a member of the local Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos de Guatemala. (Flores, meanwhile, is a representative of the Asociación de Jóvenes para el Desarrollo y Rescate Social).

Both protesters also claimed to have “strong evidence” linking the former army commander turned president to “crimes of corruption and crimes against humanity.”
They suggested that any followers or sympathizers at home and abroad should campaign human rights groups and NGOs in their respective countries to ensure the safety of the strikers.

In an interview Hernández admitted that she and her colleague decided to go on a hunger strike after the Guatemalan Congress last week refused to strip Pérez of his presidential immunity. As we mentioned last June, Pérez is facing plenty of pressure over the corruption controversies against him and his cohorts:

Daily Headlines: August 18, 2015

* Peru: Peru may have registered a 30% drop in coca cultivation over the past two years yet hundreds of coca growers accuse authorities of providing them insufficient compensation to grow other crops.

* Caribbean: Cuba’s civil defense system was placed on alert due to the effects of a year-long drought, while Puerto Rico sought U.S. Defense Department aid to combat one of the worst droughts in the island’s history.

* Ecuador: Senior disaster official Maria del Pilar Cornejo claimed that about 325,000 people living near the active Cotopaxi volcano are at risk of being hit by possible mudslides and rock flows.

* Mexico: The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accused the Mexican government of preventing them from fully investigating the disappearances of 43 missing (and possibly murdered) students from Ayotzinapa.

YouTube Source – VICE News (“Despite the United Nations confirming in 2013 that Peru has overtaken Colombia as the world's top coca and cocaine producer, the country’s place atop the drug supply chain has — at least so far — not included the levels of violence seen in Colombia, Mexico, and other international narcotics hubs.”)

Online Sources – Reuters, ABC News, Business Insider, Fox News Latino, BBC News

Monday, August 17, 2015

Daily Headlines: August 17, 2015 (Update)

* Brazil: Hundreds of thousands of protesters marched throughout in Brazil to call for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff though the odds of her actually quitting are slim to none.

Update: A Brazilian central bank survey of economists published the day after the protests found that the country's economy is expected to contract in 2016.

* Cuba: The Defense Department is allegedly considering moving some inmates from the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba to correctional facilities in the U.S.

* U.S.: A recent study found that TV ads for junk foods like sugary drinks and candy are disproportionately targeted at African-American and Latino youth.

* Venezuela: Representatives with the Pan American Health Organization are worried over shortages of medicines to treat cancer in Venezuela.

YouTube Source – euronews (“Brazil's third "major demonstration"…of the year drew tens of thousands to Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana beach to call for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff.”)

Online Sources including Update – Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Voice of America, The Huffington Post

Friday, August 14, 2015

Daily Headlines: August 14, 2015

* Cuba: The U.S. Embassy reopened in Cuba for the first time since 1961 as part of the latest action by the governments of both countries to improve diplomatic and economic ties.

* Paraguay: An 11-year-old Paraguayan girl raped by her stepfather and whose case sparked a debate over abortion gave birth to her child this week.

* Mexico: Scientists warned that the main pyramid at the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza is in danger of collapsing due to a recently discovered underground river below it.

* Venezuela: Police in Aragua have been accused of the extrajudicial murder of a suspected gang member whose death was captured by an eyewitness video.

YouTube Source – CNN 

Online Sources – NBC News, The Miami Herald, BBC News, The Latin Americanist, The Guardian

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Daily Headlines: August 13, 2015

* Venezuela: Raul Baduel, the former Defense Minister turned critic of the late President Hugo Chávez, became the second notable opposition leader to be freed from prison in a 24-hour period.

* Mexico: Mexican photojournalists at last week’s Copa Libertadores deciding match in Argentina protested the torture and murders of one of their colleagues, a human rights activist and three others on July 31st.

* Argentina: At least three fatalities have resulted from torrential rain and flooding in Buenos Aires province that have also forced 11,000 people to be evacuated.

* Cuba: Should Cuban dissidents get invited to the historic reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana tomorrow?

YouTube Source – euronews (Venezuelan opposition politician Daniel Ceballos was placed under house arrest hours before ex-minister Raul Baduel was also freed from prison).

Online Sources – NDTV, Fox News Latino, Voice of America, The Latin Americanist, Vice News